News From the College

Houston IQ Forum Highlights Training, Policies


The ACS hosted more than 80 health care leaders at the ACS Surgical Health Care Quality Forum in Houston, TX, on Sept. 10 to discuss how programs focused on surgical quality and education can reduce patient complications and readmissions, resulting in lower costs and greater health care value.

Area leaders representing institutions of the Texas Medical Center – the world’s largest hub for medical care and innovation – highlighted the influence of rigorous medical skills training and proven surgical quality programs on the overall state of health care in Texas and across the nation, using programs such as the Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation, and Education (MITIE) and the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) as proven models of success.

Houston health care leaders and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee discussed health care quality improvement and cost reduction.

"As surgeons get deeper into practice, our outcomes are only as good as we are – and continue to be – as new procedures and technologies are introduced that can make a considerable difference for patients," said forum co-host Barbara Lee Bass, MD, FACS, John F. and Carolyn Bookout Distinguished Endowed Chair of Surgery, The Methodist Hospital; executive director of MITIE; professor of surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College; and former ACS Regent. "MITIE is a unique program designed to help surgeons ‘re-tool’ their skills to stay on top of and safely deploy innovative technologies that will allow us to deliver better care," Dr. Bass added.

Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) encouraged members of the Houston surgical and health care communities to continue working with lawmakers to pursue important health policies.

"I commend the American College of Surgeons as well as the Texas Medical Center for their leadership and proactively taking steps to improve quality for patients throughout Texas," said Rep. Jackson Lee. "It is crucial that we are partners together and that policymakers have more give and take with physicians in order to understand how best to improve."

"It’s critical that the clinical teams on the front lines of patient care are engaged in the important dialogue around improving quality," said forum co-host H. Randolph Bailey, MD, FACS, chief of the division of colon and rectal surgery, The Methodist Hospital, professor of surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College, University of Texas Health Science Center, and ACS Regent. "We know what works, and what doesn’t work. If we aren’t part of the discussion and sharing knowledge with our colleagues and policy leaders in Washington, then we can’t be part of the solution."

The forum was part of the ACS Inspiring Quality initiative to drive national discussion around critical elements required for successful quality improvement programs. (For more information, go to Preventing a medical complication, which can raise the median cost of hospitalization for major surgical procedures up to five-fold, avoids additional expenditures including longer hospital stays and readmissions.

ACS NSQIP, a leading model for outcomes-based surgical quality improvement, collects clinical, risk-adjusted, 30-day outcomes data in a nationally benchmarked database. A study published in the Annals of Surgery in 2009 determined that hospitals participating in ACS NSQIP prevented 250-500 complications, resulting in an average of 12 to 36 lives saved per hospital, per year. With the average cost of medical complications equaling $11,000 per occurrence, the combined potential savings of 4,500 hospitals could add up to $13 to 26 billion each year, for an estimated total savings of $260 billion over a period of 10 years.

"Health care organizations need to do everything within their power to become safe, effective, and high-reliability operations," said panelist M. Michael Shabot, MD, FACS, FCCM, FACMI, system chief medical officer, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston. "Memorial Hermann is working to achieve this goal with close attention to performance metrics and by using all the College’s programs and accreditations, including the ACS NSQIP, Bariatric and Trauma data registries, and Bariatric, Trauma Center, and Commission on Cancer certifications. The ACS Surgeon Specific Registry is also useful for individual surgeons to monitor personal performance."

Using ACS NSQIP to compare their results with hospitals nationwide, participating hospitals are able to identify areas where they may be underperforming and develop clinical performance improvement initiatives, as well as foster and improve internal education.

"There is a real science behind creating a quality improvement team. One critical element is working closely with all of the providers and sharing quality assessment feedback regularly," said panelist Thomas A. Aloia, MD, FACS, assistant professor of surgical oncology, program director, AHPBA (American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association) Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery Fellowship, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

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